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Detente at the primary school

My daughter came home last night talking about a fourth grade classmate at the Chinese elementary school she attends. The student is having problems keeping up in math. Her parents don’t provide her a tutor and she’s now in danger of being held back a year.

The school our daughter attends is for families where at least one parent holds a foreign passport. I asked our daughter where the girl was from, thinking she was a foreigner.

She struggled a bit and said, “You know where that big embassy is near the school?” Then she said the Chinese name, “Chao Xian.” North Korea! So the girl lives in the embassy compound? Yup, she said.

Curious, I asked a few more questions. The girl has a Chinese name, which I forget, but also goes by the English name Jane. She often brings a spicy mushroom dish to school. Other kids like it and pester her to share.

Every day after school, she walks straight to her home inside the embassy compound, an enormous place just north of Ritan Park on Beijing’s east side.

I asked our daughter if she ever wanted to invite Jane to our house, as she regularly does with other classmates. “Yes, but Jane says she can’t give out her phone number,” she replied, knowing that we’d want to speak to the parents before arranging such a visit.


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Very cute entry. Keep us updated on Jane. I'm fascinated by how kids still living under authoritarian/totalitarian rule deal with exposure to Westerners or Western-influenced pop culture.

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